Monday, July 21, 2014

My turn: Six months in Sacramento

From page A4 | June 26, 2013 |

It seems like only yesterday that I took the oath of office to represent the people of El Dorado County and the rest of the vast 5th Assembly District in the Legislature. But time flies as the end of May marked six months in office for me as your assemblyman. The big-city folks who work at the State Capitol are finally getting used to seeing a guy with a ranch hat walk among them.

It has been quite a ride so far, with hiring staff, getting to know my fellow assembly members and making new friends across the new district that I proudly represent in Sacramento. Representing such a large district geographically, it was important to me that I be as accessible to you as possible. That’s why this month I’ll open a new satellite district office in Placerville, where my field representative Trish Sweeney will serve as my eyes and ears in the community.

Traveling throughout El Dorado County these past months, I’ve heard from many of you about the issues you are most concerned about. Topping the list is the fire tax on rural property owners. The tax is nothing more than a budget gimmick from 2011 and that is why repealing it is one of my ongoing priorities in Sacramento. I have co-authored Assembly Bill 124 to do just that. I am hopeful that we will be able to scrub this unfair and likely illegal tax from the books this session.

Defending the Second Amendment is another important priority of mine. Recently, I had the chance to attend the Placerville NRA dinner and heard from so many sportsmen about how legislation proposed by the majority party will impact our way of life. In my view, these measures are a slippery slope to outlawing hunting in California altogether. I have already joined my Republican colleagues in opposing measures to outlaw lead bullets, and will continue fighting to protect the rights of lawful gun owners.

During meetings in El Dorado County, I heard from family farmers and ranchers about the growing problem of livestock theft, which has increased in recent years due to the rise in value of livestock. As a rancher myself, I know firsthand just how big this problem has become. To help stop this, I have proposed Assembly Bill 924 to give law enforcement new tools such as limiting probation for repeat offenders and increasing penalties. The state has neglected this crime for too long and it is time the Legislature does something about it.

But perhaps no issue is more important for the region than protecting the interests of Lake Tahoe, a crown jewel of California. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit with South Lake Tahoe residents at a community coffee I held with Sen. Ted Gaines. Working with Sen. Gaines and Assemblywoman Beth Gaines, I joined with a group of Nevada and California lawmakers to support a compromise over the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s board.  Supported by both Democrats and Republicans, this compromise is the optimal solution to protecting both the Lake and the region’s economy.

With one-quarter of my first Assembly term now complete, I can say with confidence that there is no place like home. Sacramento is a nice place to work, but it does not beat the small-town way of life that we enjoy here in the district.

As the Legislature considers the governor’s budget proposal and thousands of bills, I will continue to fight hard for our shared values. With six months of Assembly experience now under my belt, I look forward to doing even more for El Dorado County residents in the months to come.

Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, R-O’Neals, represents the 5th Assembly District in the California Legislature.





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